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Old 07-11-2015, 04:12 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Davydd View Post
Airstream brought the James Cook Westfalia model over and converted to American standards a decade ago. It lasted about 2 years. It was rather innovative at the time with European design. I think of it as the grass is greener syndrome until you have to actually shell out cash. The markets are different is all. Our RV use is different too.

I'm satisfied with my American made Class B. I'd put it up against any European converter for design, innovation and capabilities. Temporarily I feel cutting edge but there will soon be some more stuff coming from Advanced RV that will knock your socks off.
Davydd: The Sprinter chassis that my wife and I ordered will be arriving at Advanced RV this fall. Will we have the chance to have our socks blown off by this cutting edge stuff that Advanced RV will be introducing? Do you know what the timeline is? Thanks.
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Old 07-11-2015, 12:28 PM   #22
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Well, Winnebago does the same thing, but I wouldn't call them cutting edge either. And you'll notice most of the parts (appliances) are the same as eurovans (except for the cassette toilets).

I think it really comes down to the aesthetic of the interiors and the design expertise they seem to have on space utilization. With all their manufacturers, they have a depth of design expertise we don't have in the States.

The US is "designing" if you want to call it that, to what they perceive as American tastes. It's not very sophisticated - mostly just trial and error. The RV industry here is way behind what other product manufacturers are doing. There is a certain amount of arrogance too - some of them have been doing this a long time, such as Winnebago, so they think they know what works in the marketplace. It's almost funny when they do something radical (like the Travato) and it becomes a huge success to the surprise of many - as if by accident.
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Old 07-11-2015, 12:55 PM   #23
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Davydd: The Sprinter chassis that my wife and I ordered will be arriving at Advanced RV this fall. Will we have the chance to have our socks blown off by this cutting edge stuff that Advanced RV will be introducing? Do you know what the timeline is? Thanks.
Classbbud,

One thing about Advanced RV is innovation and improvement doesn't stop with model years. If something new comes along or if a customer makes a request it usually gets granted. That is why they had the first 4 cylinder Sprinter RVs on the road and why they will have 4x4s and Super-high roof Sprinter RVs. It is kind of like the longer you wait the more things you will know about and can adapt. I can't wait to see FredA's 4x4 extended body ARV that is a completely custom plan, finishes, cabinets and appliances. How many companies are there that have customers doing their own CAD work custom designs?
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Old 07-11-2015, 01:36 PM   #24
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Well, Winnebago does the same thing, but I wouldn't call them cutting edge either. And you'll notice most of the parts (appliances) are the same as eurovans (except for the cassette toilets).

I think it really comes down to the aesthetic of the interiors and the design expertise they seem to have on space utilization. With all their manufacturers, they have a depth of design expertise we don't have in the States.

The US is "designing" if you want to call it that, to what they perceive as American tastes. It's not very sophisticated - mostly just trial and error. The RV industry here is way behind what other product manufacturers are doing. There is a certain amount of arrogance too - some of them have been doing this a long time, such as Winnebago, so they think they know what works in the marketplace. It's almost funny when they do something radical (like the Travato) and it becomes a huge success to the surprise of many - as if by accident.
America is different than Europe. For one, camper vans are less than 1% of the total RV market. There is little incentive and reward to put a lot of R&D into them. America's diverse climate, roads, infrastructure and campgrounds are different and set up for larger RVs. America's perception of RVing is different. The small European camper vans are more suited in America as weekender activity vans. America's, what little market there is for camper vans, has been older retirees or near retirees touring a vast country over longer periods. Will that change? Maybe, maybe not. The Travato success has not been design but filling a niche in cost that has been passed over by Sprinters and being a Euro style van option to Chevys. The perceived rate of success has been cheaper cost and first time buyers not totally understanding camper vans.

I'm sorry, I cannot see a retired couple with any mobility issues buying that Travato 59G model and trying to hike into and scoot out of a high 46" wide bed with a cutout corner. Sure it could be done for a weekend or a vacation week but it would be pure hell on a month long tour, IMO. I'm not convinced there is much of a Gen X or Millennial camper van market. Choices will be bigger in America because bigger (trailers, Class Cs) will be the better bargain and feasible.

What could do the Promaster in could be the Transit (yet to be seen) but I think what could be more troubling is capacity to self-sustain camp or boondock if that concept becomes the norm Roadtrek wants it to become. Note also the Roadtrek Zion is limited in that potential. Camper vans have a go anywhere stealth niche to pull off sustainability better than small Class Cs. Whether that comes to pass is yet to be seen, but it has changed my outlook on touring tremendously. I doubt I would have enjoyed continuing with the same old same old mold of travel I had in my two previous Class Bs. Oh, I expect to be refuted on this, but the facts are facts, camper vans are less than 1% of all RVs. What is it in Europe?
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Old 07-11-2015, 02:18 PM   #25
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I'm sorry, I cannot see a retired couple with any mobility issues buying that Travato 59G model and trying to hike into and scoot out of a high 46" wide bed with a cutout corner. Sure it could be done for a weekend or a vacation week but it would be pure hell on a month long tour, IMO. I'm not convinced there is much of a Gen X or Millennial camper van market. Choices will be bigger in America because bigger (trailers, Class Cs) will be the better bargain and feasible.
Precisely why they came out with the K model.

I don't agree with you on the market demographics. It's skewing younger by the day. Many are using their vans in the exact same way people use the bigger RV's - namely in parks and campgrounds. Very few are Tourers like Davydd. There are a great number actually full-timing in vans. Especially in the older and less-capable models.

The boondocking purists are surely a small number. Granted, people like the idea of go anywhere, or stay out in the wild, but very few will actually do it. They end up making reservations and plugging into hookups. All this stuff is being offered by Roadtrek to prop up their prices and differentiate from the "lower" brands. That's fine I guess, people like to think they are getting something for this kind of money.

I'd also argue on the R&D. You really don't need to do much from scratch nor do extensive testing. With CAD and CNC machines, you really can do anything you want on the cheap. Either come up with it on your own, or steal ideas from Europe. They have alot of cool ideas as people above have noted.
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Old 07-11-2015, 02:38 PM   #26
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I think Wincrasher brings up a very interesting point when it comes to some of the B buyers. You hear a lot about stealth, off grid capability, staying in Walmart, side of the road, wilderness etc, but how many of the high buck, dually, units actually do that? Is it just because it sounds so cool when you are looking for B? Currently trendy? Who knows.

Our last trip, we were about 50/50 on hookups, and when we were in the primitive campgrounds we hardly ever any high end motorhomes of any kind. Same with Walmarts. But go down the street past the full hookup campground and it was full of high end stuff. In most of the primitive places, our 07 was considered the high end by folks who came by.

I think the younger crowd will be the ones actually using the off grid capability of a B, some for solitude, some for adventure outings, and you won't see them in an extended, dually, $150K Sprinter. Of course there will be some of us die hard types that like the solitude too, but we would also not be in anything that big or spendy. The Euro vans will be much more applicable to these crowds.
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Old 07-11-2015, 03:30 PM   #27
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The fact that the Travato has become a hit for Winnebago may be a foreshadowing of things to come in the Class B market. They targeted a younger demographic with an active outdoor lifestyle, similar to Outside Vans.

The trends in the general economy have to also be taken into account, with less jobs for graduates and massive student loan debt that is precluding many young people from purchasing a home and putting down roots to start a family.

There is also a growing movement of minimalism among millennials and Gen X'ers looking for small, affordable off-the-grid living spaces. In fact, there is quite a large "van dwelling" community on YouTube that seems to work well with this minimalist lifestyle. I think stealth camping in urban centers, along with boon-docking in the wild will continue to rise in popularity as the economy declines.

Getting back to the original thread topic - I think that the Euro camper vans are some of the best designed models to address this growing demographic shift.
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Old 07-11-2015, 10:54 PM   #28
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If you want a Euro Camper, buy a Travato. It's built on an Italian chassis, has Italian cabinetry and has Italian accessories. What's North American about it is the size of the bathroom and in the case of the 59g, a garage you can put more toys into and those are both pluses in my book.
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Old 07-12-2015, 12:35 AM   #29
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Old 07-12-2015, 03:46 AM   #30
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I lived, studied and worked in Europe. I rented one of the early Bedford campervans. I find their designs innovative and utilitarian in but their bathroom facilities are usually rudimentary(tiny if a shower at all) and beds are more for small Europeans. I like the thick memory foam beds of the Sprinters personally. I find their kitchen setups tend to be lacking in cupboard space and often don't have a lift-up shelf. One would have to weigh their prices and what you get against what we pay and what we get for the money. Sprinters here are getting ridiculously expensive ergo the advent of the Promaster and Ford conversions coming soon too.
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Old 07-12-2015, 04:03 AM   #31
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I lived, studied and worked in Europe. I rented one of the early Bedford campervans. I find their designs innovative and utilitarian in but their bathroom facilities are usually rudimentary(tiny if a shower at all) and beds are more for small Europeans. I like the thick memory foam beds of the Sprinters personally. I find their kitchen setups tend to be lacking in cupboard space and often don't have a lift-up shelf. One would have to weigh their prices and what you get against what we pay and what we get for the money. Sprinters here are getting ridiculously expensive ergo the advent of the Promaster and Ford conversions coming soon too.
Let's keep to current European van conversions, which are the opposite of what you describe.

Funny that in Europe the Sprinter does not carry a premium compared to the Transit or Ducato. We pay more because we think the badge means higher quality. Spend some time on Sprinter Source and you learn that is clearly not true.
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Old 07-12-2015, 02:12 PM   #32
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I wondered this too. After talking with a handful of manufacturers, these are the reasons which keep coming up:
  • Having lots of paid vacation makes camper vans more attractive. Many (most?) European jobs include enough paid vacation that 3+ week road trips are possible so the aggregate demand is higher.
  • American manufacturers aren't comfortable with loft beds because they think American consumers aren't, and manufacturers think dense floorplans depend on loft beds. (The Travato reinforces this, so I hope manufacturers see the Safari Condo FLEX shows that both are possible.)
  • Lack of a trusted, relatively inexpensive chassis, especially a wider one. The Sprinter is narrow (and other than Mauck2, no one sells a stock wider Sprinter that's empty -- can't buy an empty Leisure Travel Van made on the Sprinter cab). The Transit has other tradeoffs perceived as significant. The ProMaster/Ducato appears to be this chassis and we're starting to see results from it.
  • The "chicken tax," which is cited as why the VW Transporter T5/VW California isn't available in the US. It's classified as a light truck and would be subject to a 25% tariff. Ford workar around this with the Transit Connect by importing it as a passenger vehicle then shredding the seats (Google for chicken tax t5 ford). There's a more active market for T5 customizations and DIY kits in the UK alone than I've seen of the entire US Class B market.

Note that I haven't researched any the stats behind these. It's a summary of what manufacturers are thinking about, right or wrong.

There's two more factors I haven't heard any reasonable justifications for:
  • Low-end interior finishes and no option to upgrade. Many classy-looking interiors aren't much more expensive (birch ply! solid colors!), if at all. Even if they're cost-prohibitive to use as standards, I'm at a loss why so few manufacturers offer them as options. There's no reason to think retirees wouldn't appreciate this too, especially if they knew it meant the RV wouldn't look dated in 5-10 years.
  • Why Hymer's business wasn't adaptable by someone else. It seems likely that Hymer was waiting for the Ducato/ProMaster to be available here, and maybe that threat was enough to keep any new manufacturers from spending the effort to productize a US clone of Hymer's camper vans.

Let me plug Safari's Condo Flex here. I have no affiliation with them and no firsthand experience with their products, but just from its design, the Condo Flex is enough of an exception to the problems above to be worth mentioning (more than the Travato).
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Old 07-12-2015, 03:24 PM   #33
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If you ever visit Quebec, you will find that the people pride themselves on being more European (French) than North American. I believe this explains their penchant for Euro design on the Safari Flex.

The Italian company that makes the bed lift in the Flex is called Project 2000 and they are now distributing them in North America through Lippert Components:

Lippert Components« to Distribute Over-cab Bed Lift System and Other Products of Italian Manufacturer Project 2000



Before Great West went belly up, they produced a model that had a bed lift and a dinette underneath. I assume that other NA manufacturers will jump on board with these designs once they see that there is in fact a demand for it.

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Old 07-12-2015, 11:05 PM   #34
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I hope manufacturers like Westfalia, Hymer Car and Adria come to North America.

It will force the North American companies to up their interior design game. Too many of them are stuck with the dated wood cabinets and cheap looking fiberglass and plastic washrooms.

The closest company in NA to capture the Euro flair for design is Safari Condo.
Totally agree with you. Same applies to architecture and design, people want their motorhome to look like their house, so there's a long way to quality and contemporary design in the wonderful world of RVs. It's time to cater to a different generation, but that means also to have affordable B's through efficient manufacturing and that's where Europeans excel. It's sad that Hymer seems to change it's plan for it's North American operations _it's Facebook page is closed. Hard to imagine a sufficient volume for North American Campervans to justify gearing up a plant like they have in Europe.

One option is more small family shop like Safari Condo, producing locally, (Outside Van in Oregon is an example of quality _but pricey_ contemporary sport vans) but you don't start it overnight.

An example of interesting interior design from Outside Van.



and the ProMaster Hymercar




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Old 07-13-2015, 11:27 AM   #35
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The Travato is pretty much a rip off of the The HymerCar Grand Canyon model.

HymerCar USA ┬╗ Experience
Then the AVIDA Escape from here had a shot of a Motorbike being placed in the back of the Ducato Class B Motorhome, instead of a Bicycle and a Kayak on the roof. AVIDA was Winnebago Australia ( No relation to the U.S. company)at that time ,and that was several years ago. Now Winnebago US has a Bicycle being attached to the back of a Promaster Class B and Kayak attached to the roof
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Old 07-13-2015, 11:42 AM   #36
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Having problems posting a photo, keep getting logged out
http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a1...pshqlow96j.jpg

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Old 07-13-2015, 11:51 AM   #37
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Last but not least "spot the difference"
http://www.motorhomes.co.uk/motorhom...2-original.jpg
http://www.motorhomefulltime.com/sit...nebago_via.jpg
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Old 07-13-2015, 12:49 PM   #38
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Cool. You could put your Ducati into your Ducato!

But I can fit a motorbike in my Travato. Just need a suitable ramp and some tie-downs.
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Old 07-13-2015, 12:50 PM   #39
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Wish there were more of these baby A's over here. Looking at the size, I bet that Hymer drives alot better than that Winnebago.
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Old 07-13-2015, 03:37 PM   #40
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Australia has some really nice Class B's as well.

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